POLL: Con Ed Seeks Rate Hike To Pay For Storm-Protection Work

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Con Edison is seeking approval for a rate increase from the state Public Service Commission.
Con Edison is seeking approval for a rate increase from the state Public Service Commission. Photo Credit: File

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - Con Edison has asked the state Public Service Commission for a $375 million increase in the amount it collects from its customers to operate its electric delivery system, which if approved, would mean an average overall bill increase of about 3 percent for customers.


Should Con Edison be granted its request for a rate increase?

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The proposed one-year delivery rates, which also include its gas and steam services, are meant to provide initial money for a storm-protection effort. The filing includes plans for approximately $800 million of storm-protection capital expenditures through 2016 for the electric system, including projects to move certain overhead distribution lines below ground, increase the height of flood walls for certain facilities, raise the level of critical equipment, install submersible equipment; install additional switches and related smart grid technology and reconfigure certain distribution networks.

The company also said it was looking to provide customers with more accurate, individual restoration times, as well as offering text messaging and other mobile communications for customers who prefer them.

For a typical Westchester residential customer, the monthly electric bill would rise from $114 to $118. The typical monthly bill for a small business would rise from $2,167 to $2,226.

For gas service, the filing also seeks an additional $25 million in revenue, which would result in an overall customer bill increase of about 1 percent. The typical monthly gas heating bill for a residential heating customer would rise from $188 to $190. Businesses would see an increase from $349 to $352 per month.

Con Ed officials say the gas revenue increase the company is seeking is due to infrastructure needs. These include the connection to a new gas transmission pipeline in lower Manhattan and the construction of a 10-mile gas main from the Bronx to White Plains to improve the safety and reliability of Con Edison's gas distribution system.

For steam service, the company is seeking a decrease of $5 million in revenue. The decrease would come in addition to an estimated $66 million in annual fuel cost savings as a result of the conversion of two Con Edison steam plants from burning fuel oil to burning natural gas. The combined effect is equivalent to an overall decrease in customers' bills of approximately 10 percent, according to Con Ed officials.

Con Edison delayed asking for the rate increase after Hurricane Sandy left hundreds of thousands of the company’s customers without power, many of them for as long as two weeks.

"Although the economy is improving, we are still working diligently to hold down costs for our customers," Con Edison President Craig Ivey said. "At the same time, the increased frequency and damage of storms assaulting our area presents a major challenge. We must invest in our systems in new ways to maintain the safe, reliable service our customers deserve."

The rate plans, subject to an 11-month review by the state Public Service Commission and other interested parties, would cover the period Jan.1 to Dec. 31, 2014.

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Does anyone really believe that the Public Service Commission exists to protect the Public?

The point to be understood is that Con Ed will get what it seeks because that's the way the system works. And as much as I may be concerned about the chaos potential of Indian Point, note that were it to close down the public would be even more dependent on Con Ed. Without Indian Point functioning as a competitor, Con Ed's sought increase would be even higher and its dividends would rise (NOTE: dividends are needed to lure investors to buy Con Ed stock upon its initial public offering, not its resale; when Con Ed sells stock or bonds, it raises money that would otherwise have to come from customers).

Con Ed operating in NYC, Long Island and Westchester is not the same as operating in Montana or Florida. Those who believe that these are level playing fields should move there forthwith even before commenting on this website again. Everything costs less elsewhere else and utility workers are also paid less. Furthermore, when newer communities start up (i.e. once were known as rural), the idea of burying overhead lines is an easier sell then replacing existing overhead lines.

The only achievable victory is to embarrass Con Ed publicly which does not provide much in the way of customer relief. Make Con Ed executives the most reviled figures. Expose their faults and misdeeds. Make their children ashamed of what their fathers do. Remember that any service demands if won will ultimately be paid for by customers: there is no free lunch. While it would be nice to dream that it were possible to limit executive compensation when the company screws up, Con Ed is a private company and this is still the United States. So the only way to win is to draw the management personally into the fray. Resist the notion that local governments have any control or influence over events.

In the near term, short of removing every tree in sight of power lines, accept the premise that trees do fall or fail, your choice. The problem when this occurs in great numbers is that extra manpower will be needed to cope with the short term need to restore service outages. That Con Ed needs help in finding workers on these occasions is a solvable problem in "emergencies" were Con Ed and Verizon to have already established lines of communication out to local electricians (and unions) so as to be roll when similar situations are encountered (as they inevitably will during an ongoing climatic change). With limited training and the paperwork already done; the workforce will be ready to roll. As for matching temporary workers with equipment, trucks are routinely take out of service at established birthdays and mileage points: warehouse them locally instead of retiring them. A truck warehoused in Greenburgh needn't be driven to Bayshore and the reverse.

The problem that most residents face is not so much that caused by rate hikes; it is being asked to pay these increases without any assurance that service disruptions (annoying, debilitating, humiliating and more costly out of pocket than can be reimbursed) will be eliminated as the direct result.

That's what this downward spiral is all about.

Hal Samis

these unions are some of the biggest crooks around, besides some of the politicians

In Florida the PSC requires a Hurricane reserve fund. Wooden poles are being replaced with concrete and fiber glass poles . Most Cities enforce the code that you can not plant a tree under or twenty feet from any power line.
The use of smart meters cuts out the cost of a live meter reader in most areas. And is a automatic call on a power failure. Due to the many Nuclear Power Plants 20 miles from Miami the electric rates are less then Con Ed.
or NYS Electric,( National Grid. ) The worst case example is Long Island
Lighting bankrupt due to The Former Gov. Maro Como shuting down the BILLION DOLLAR Shorham Nuclear Power plant.

ConEd wants a rate hike to pay for upgrading the electric grid and hardening their systems against future weather events...? This is the kind of work they should do on regular basis, instead of waiting for their poorly maintained ( they don't upgrade or do preventive maintenance - they just wait until it breaks down and then repair...) systems to collapse, then ask for another rate increase; we already pay the highest rates in the state, and ConEd is awash with profits and cash, little of which goes to upgrades and maintenance. We have a third world electric system that is expected to fail with weather events such as wind, snow, ice... Visitors from Europe laugh at our tangles of overhead wires and frequent power outages, circa 1950's. Rate hike? Really?
Bring us at least to the twentieth century, then we can talk again.

Talk about NERVE....
No power for over 7 days... limited (if any) resources to Westchester,
a credit of $ 6.00+ (wow)... and they now want a raise...
C'mon... give me a break....
If anything, their action (or lack thereof) should result a rate reduction!
But certain that they will get an increase... Thank you PSC & Gov. Cuomo!

True. But if, for an average of $4/month, we'd have fewer and shorter power outages with better communication I'm eager to pay and I'd be happy to pay your share too! We were out for 2 weeks, being told every day that it would be on that night. Meanwhile, my friend in Montana (not a wealthy state) tells me that all the electric wires are buried there (???!!!!)

Con Edison charges more than just about any other power company in the USA and the service is abominable. Hurricane Sandy was predicted for nearly a week and yet it seemed to catch them completely unaware. We were without power for nearly a week - never saw a Con Ed truck. And now, they want to be paid more for their services. What a joke! I say that maybe their big chief exec's should take a slight deduction in their bonuses - that ought to cover it!

Con Ed shells out approx $350 million in dividends PER QUARTER. Perfect place to get their $375 milliion.

Maybe PF can hold another "Bash ConEd" meeting to admit that he didn't do anything for Greenburgh’s residents during this last storm either.